Susan Ganeshan, Software AG’s SVP of product management/marketing, gave a well-attended breakout session on the webMethods suite roadmap and vision. I had a bit of a preview at a breakfast meeting this morning with Mike Lees, director of BPM product marketing, and hope to get a demo of the new major release before too much longer.
Ganeshan started with a quick review of what they’ve released this year — which likely most of the customers in the audience have not yet implemented — that adds quite a bit of functionality. From her presentation, the major additions/improvements in 7.1 were:
- BPM Suite
- Eclipse Tools
- Human Workflow
- WYSIWYG App Design
- Process Analytics
- SOA Registry
- Introduction of ESB
- Standards: WS-I, SOAP, HTTP, JMS, etc
- Role Based Partner Admin & Monitoring
7.1.2, released in September, fixed a large number of bugs in 7.1, plus added more functionality:
In spite of the insistence yesterday that they’re a middleware vendor, and their strength in the integration-centric BPM sector, they’re adding more capabilities in the human-centric BPM side. I’m not sure if that will be enough to push them up in the Gartner BPM magic quadrant (which considers integration-centric and human-centric vendors together), or to get them onto move them up in the Forrester human-centric BPM wave, but it’s interesting to note that they’ve come from essentially no human-facing BPM a couple of years ago to at least being a blip on the radar now.
They also have a new offering, webMethods Insight, for discovering and managing services and their availability, plus the CentraSite ActiveSOA release that was discussed yesterday; CentraSite ActiveSOA will able to federate services repositories as well as allowing you to set rules-based policies around service provisioning. She announced another upcoming product, webMethods Mediator, for service mediation functionality without deploying a dedicated server to mediation.
webMethods Designer 7.2 has moved the developer environment into Eclipse (to be released next month), which feeds into the Eclipse-based environment that will be seen in webMethods 8, to be released in 2009. webMethods 8 will provide:
- Customizable, extensible eclipse-based development environment including a set of tools: unified asset design, visual flow editor, WSD editor, document editor, visual mapping, JMS trigger editor, BPEL editor (through a partnership with another, unnamed company), and built-in debugging inherent to the Eclipse environment. By the way, she said (explicitly for attribution): “BPEL is misnamed. It’s not a business process execution language, it’s a service execution language”.
- In the ESB layer:
- ESB and integration server with integrated BPEL engine, XML security services, XML schema enhancements, single sign-on, WmPublic enhancements, Subversion VCS support
- Broker and JMS enhancements including policy-based broker clustering, security enhancement, and JDNI support.
- BPEL 1.1/2.0 support, plus a number of other new standards support such as SAML 1.1 and SOAP over JMS.
- For B2B trading networks, data archival management and visibility, dashboards and reporting via Cognos integration, and managed file transfer via another partnership.
- EDI enhancements including additional adapters such as the previously discussed Salesforce.com adapter
- In the BPM layer:
- webMethods Align, a browser-based collaborative modeling tool for process discovery and design: like Lombardi’s Blueprint, but (possibly) inside the firewall. Within Align, you can define the goals of the process, then drag and drop steps directly in a BPMN-like process map view. More information can be added to each step to, as she says, “allow the business analyst to tell IT what needs to be done here”. She stated that this will have a single shared process model with the executable version, so no round-tripping considerations. You can invite other people to collaborate, which gives you a shared whiteboard sort of capability where you can all work on the process at the same time. Early days for this product; they don’t about pricing, and may consider providing it as a hosted service (although that may cause an issue with a shared model). My advice: give it away for free, since charging for it won’t drive a significant amount of revenue anyway, but a free version will drive adoption across enterprises.
- Forms-driven processes using MS Infopath or Adobe Forms, which will (IMO) strengthen their human-centric offering
- Optimization and simulation, including the use of real-time data.
- User-generated mashups (which she referred to as “user derived applications), allowing a user to create and customize a portal workspace, including interaction between components, then save and share that workspace.
- Ad hoc process collaboration, allowing a user to step outside the structured process for review or escalation while still working the process in an audited environment.
- Monitoring, reporting and analytics through Cognos integration.
- Across the webMethods suite, they’ve improved installation and maintenance.
I’m excited to see the new BPMS release, especially Align, in the coming months.
They have a site for submitting product ideas, Brainstorm, which is community-driven: you can actually vote on the ideas that other people submit. Right now, you need a registered login, but they will soon allow anonymous submissions.